Bloomsbury Academic and the IHR host an Inclusive Histories partnership, that seeks to improve the publishing opportunities available for early-career history researchers from a diverse range of backgrounds. This new annual initiative will support recent PhD students, from anywhere in the world, in developing their thesis into a Bloomsbury monograph. It offers an online workshop on how to develop a book proposal and the opportunity for shortlisted book proposals—selected by an IHR panel—to receive full peer review.
The most successful proposal will be awarded a project completion grant of £500 (to be spent as the author chooses, on resources or expenses to enable them to complete the book) in addition to a Bloomsbury contract. We hope that this initiative will also help all participants to strengthen their book proposals and move a step closer to publication. The initiative is open to recent PhD students who are not currently in full-time, permanent, academic positions.
2023 Grant Winner:
Sandip Kana, for Development and Non-State Actors in Modern India: Agencies, Perspectives and Experiences, 1900-1964
Sandip Kana’s Development and Non-State Actors in Modern India: Agencies, Perspectives and Experiences, 1900-1964 reveals that development in India was not just about the institutions, power, and structures of the colonial and post-colonial state by recognising the valuable contributions of non-state indigenous actors. Kana critically engages with the question of how the nature of development in India was shaped by alternative, non-state agencies, which affected the lives of non-elite Indians in local spaces where the capacity, authority, and power of the state (colonial and postcolonial) was limited. The book also recovers the experiences, perspectives, and agencies of actors who are often marginalised from histories of development, such as young people, women, workers, and refugees.
Kana’s book proposal was highly praised by three anonymous peer reviewers. They recognised it as ‘a clever study that uses a fresh approach to grapple with Indian politics’ and one that promises to offer an ‘important new intervention in the scholarship on the history of development in South Asia’.
In this blog we are delighted to hear from Sandip about his research, hopes for his monograph, and future plans.
Development and non-state actors in modern India: Agencies, perspectives and experiences, 1900-1964
A guiding principle that has and continues to shape my research is to contribute to ongoing efforts to provide a more representative and inclusive history. My efforts are geared towards building on existing narratives by bringing in new agencies, perspectives, and experiences to enrich our understanding. Through adopting a bottom-up approach I am able to capture and focus on the contributions of marginalised and underrepresented historical actors and communities.
My first monograph project since completing my History PhD at King’s College London reconceptualises our understanding of the agents of development within colonial and postcolonial India through recognising the important contribution of non-state indigenous actors to this process. By focusing on this set of actors this monograph will reveal that development was not just about the institutions, power, and structures of the colonial and postcolonial state. Crucially, this monograph provides a fresh historical assessment of colonial and postcolonial development.
My intention is for the monograph to show how the story of development in India must go beyond its relationship with colonialism and its statist institutional structures and forms. Instead, it must critically engage with the question of how the nature of development in India was shaped by alternative, non-state agencies, which affected the lives of non-elite Indians in local spaces where the capacity, authority, and power of the state (colonial and postcolonial) was limited. Therefore, by analysing the limits of state capacity, through an investigation of alternative sites in which development occurred, this monograph will reveal that other forms of authority, agency, and activity existed alongside it, and had an important role in shaping its development. Thus, this book will address a crucial gap in imperial, development, postcolonial, and South Asian historiographies, by providing the first extensive study of non-state indigenous interventions in shaping development, which will enable us to reconceptualise critically how we think of ‘the state’ as the most powerful body in shaping the process of development.
Through recovering the experiences, perspectives, and agencies of indigenous, non-state actors and communities it is my hope that this monograph will disrupt our existing understanding of—and narratives concerning—the histories of development; this will reveal the important contribution that indigenous actors such as youth, women, workers, refugees, and migrants had in shaping developmental areas such as education, health, industry, and welfare. Bringing these different agencies together across these varied developmental areas is a challenge for a single monograph, but one I think needs to be tackled. My reason for focusing on the agencies of indigenous actors is to provide greater visibility to local voices, ideas, and arguments that were crucial to shaping the dynamics of development. My intention is that this focus will provide a new methodological approach to grappling with histories of development during the colonial and postcolonial periods that focuses on indigenous agency.
Publishing my first monograph as part of the Inclusive Histories Partnership between the IHR and Bloomsbury Academic is a great opportunity to provide increased visibility to more representative and inclusive histories. The project funds that the partnership provides will contribute towards completing archival research in India.
Perhaps of most significance, I hope that my first monograph will provide readers, whether academic or the general public, an opportunity to read an alternative and more inclusive history of the development of modern India, which brings to the forefront, and recognises, the agency of indigenous actors and communities. My intention is that readers come away with an alternative idea of what development was, and of the alternative forms and agencies that shaped it, but I also hope that readers come away with a desire to engage more in representative and inclusive histories.
2024 Initiative Opens Soon
Keep your eye on our website for the call for 2024 applications, opening soon. The deadline will be 31 January 2024.